ZAP workshops for bullied children

Ben came to a ZAP workshop in London with his mum, who tells us what the day meant to them both

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Photo: Young people taking part in a ZAP workshop

When Ben* [9] started school in reception he was tied up in the playground and bullied for an hour, when he was just five years old. He never recovered from that. The boy tied to him to a seat with a skipping rope, and nobody witnessed this. I picked Ben up from school that day and he was ashen, he said "mummy, I've just had the worst day of my life" and the school just glossed over it. He'd only been in school five weeks, and it changed Ben's personality. It changed him from being this lovely, confident, happy-go-lucky little boy to someone that had to have his wits about him. He said to me "they just wouldn't let me go, they just kept pushing me over and pinching me." Every time I tell people about what happened to Ben in the playground people laugh, because poor little Ben said "mummy, I had to walk like a penguin to go and get help", cos his ankles were tied up - it's a funny thing to say!

Now he has the tools, he knows what bullying is, he knows it's wrong and he knows what should and shouldn't be accepted and tolerated

I felt so wretched that I didn't find Kidscape sooner - I didn't give Ben the tools to be able to deal with this kid. He was really confident, you would never believe it to meet him, and he's sociable and charming and funny... but in the playground, he spent his entire time for the first four years of his school life on his own, in a corner. Terrified. So, Kidscape not only supported me but they supported Ben, and now he runs around and plays, and has a wonderful time in the playground. Certainly for little boys, school is all about playtime. Now he has the tools, he knows what bullying is, he knows it's wrong and he knows what should and shouldn't be accepted and tolerated. Now he's such a happy little boy, it's such a success I can't tell you.

When we came to the workshop, Ben disappeared off upstairs and I immediately felt comfortable. The people that were running this just have an incredible gift for putting the children and parents at ease. So, off he trotted, and all us mums mooched off downstairs to go and find a coffee and we left the building - and all instantly bonded. We sat around with our coffees and shared our experiences. Then later in the afternoon we came back and met with the organiser and we all sat in a circle and he explained what was going on, what the children were learning upstairs about their body language, how to use their voice, the whole fogging thing, and the techniques they were being taught to combat or stop any bullying. We also had a chance as parents to share how we felt too.

As soon as you pick up the phone and speak to someone at Kidscape you just feel like you're in very safe hands

I didn't really have any reservations about going to the workshop. As soon as you pick up the phone and speak to someone at Kidscape you just feel like you're in very safe hands. I wasn't worried, but I didn't know how incredible it was going to be either. I just didn't know quite what is was about, sometimes you can go on a course and it's a bit naff, but this was not naff at all. These people really know what they're doing.

It's really helped Ben. He came home with so much more confidence and it's continued onwards, and he's now a completely different person in the playground. I'm so pleased about that, he's just a lovely happy little boy now. As he should be, as he was, until he was bullied.

* Names have been changed

To find out more about our ZAP workshops, click here. If your child is under nine, you can also contact our Parent Advice Line.

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